Saturday, November 2, 2019

The North Pole

Why the North Pole?

Well, first, the Arctic is one of the most distant and unknown places on Earth. It is a place where it snows year round. The first expeditions to the Arctic were in the mid 1800's. Stories of the remote place and the adventures of the explorers fascinated everyone.

Snow is associated with Christmas (thanks to Moore's poem and Hannlaun's illustration). So when Thomas Nast was creating the images of Santa Claus, what better place for him to live - in a remote place that captures everyones imagination and few have been there. No one really knew exactly what was at the North Pole since it was not visited until Robert Peary's 1909 expedition.

During the 1840's and 1850's there were several expeditions to the Arctic, which gained worldwide media attention.

The Arctic had become a famous and fabled location. A place where it snowed all year round and it was easy to imagine it as a respite for a creature that is always associated with the cold. Snow had become a universal symbol of Christmas cheer and to Nast and his followers it only made sense for Santa to live with Christmas cheer every day of the year.

Nast’s publications celebrated the idea that the North Pole was still an untouched story. It was just as much of a fantasy as Saint Nicholas himself since no one would claim to have conquered the journey to the Pole until 1909, when Robert Peary received the honor.

Since it was so unknown, who could argue about whether or not Santa, his reindeer, and his elves lived there?

The story of the elves goes back to Scandinavia. By the mid 1800's the elves were no longer referred to as "House Gnomes". Thanks to the illustrations of several artists of the time, they were referred to as "Christmas Elves". As time and the story developed the elves (known for their magic)  helped Santa build the toys he delivered to the children every year on Christmas Eve. They also assisted Santa maintain the "Naughty and Nice" list and, they specialized in reindeer care.
Image result for vintage pictures of santas elves
If you are ever in doubt, just ask any 6 year old where Santa lives. Chances are very high that they will reply,"The North Pole, of course."

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